Catalysis in Biodiesel Production by Transesterification Processes-An Insight
Biodiesel is the mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from renewable lipid feedstock, such as vegetable oils and animal fats, for use in compression ignition (diesel) engines. The conversion of component triglycerides in oils to simple alkyl esters with short chain alcohols like methanol and ethanol amongst others is achieved mainly by transesterification. The transesterification reaction, a reversible process proceeds appreciably by the addition of catalysts, which can be acidic, basic or organic in nature, usually in molar excess of alcohol. The economy of the process depends on the type and quantity of catalyst used among other factors. The catalyst can be homogeneous or heterogeneous depending on whether it is in the same or different phase with the reactants; oils and alcohols. This paper attempts to give an insight into some of the various types of catalysts that have been used to effect the transesterification of vegetable, waste and animal oils in biodiesel production.
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